As the nation’s rate of pancreatic disease continues to climb, Cleveland Clinic’s Pancreas Clinic rises to the challenge of diagnosing and treating pancreas-related diseases. The Pancreas Clinic, part of Cleveland Clinic’s Digestive Disease Institute (DDI), specializes in multidisciplinary, patient-centered treatments and innovative research for all types of pancreatic diseases and disorders.
Our clinic unites specialists from across Cleveland Clinic, including pancreatic surgeons, gastroenterologists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, psychologists and oncologists from Taussig Cancer Institute, when needed, who together work to customize the best possible treatment for patients and give them improved quality of life. This collaboration also means that patients get the care they need right away, rather than waiting for separate appointments with various specialists.
Cleveland Clinic’s Pancreas Clinic is one of the few centers in the nation that specializes in patient-centered treatments and frontline research for every type of pancreatic disorder.
The Pancreas Clinic treats disorders such as complicated acute pancreatitis, chronic pancreatitis, and pancreatic cancer. Each year, more than 1,500 patients trust the Pancreas Clinic with their healthcare needs. In 2010, the Cleveland Clinic treated more than 350 patients chronic pancreatitis and nearly 500 patients with pancreatic cancer. The Digestive Disease Institute has been ranked No. 2 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report’s since 2003 by its “America’s Best Hospitals” survey.
The Pancreas Clinic offers a single location for patients to receive the best therapies and treatment options for pancreatic disorders. Patients travel from around the country to receive our innovative treatments and services, including:
- Endoscopic, minimally invasive and radiographic diagnostic imaging
- Islet auto transplantation
- Robotic surgery for pancreatic cancer
- Robotic pancreaticoduodenectomy
- Chronic pain management using pancreatic enzymes, subcutaneous injections of octreotide, and other alternative treatments.
Current Pancreas Clinic research may lead to the development of a new test for the early detection of pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatitis is a painful inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatic damage occurs when digestive enzymes attack the pancreas. In severe cases, pancreatitis can cause loss of blood flow to the gland, leading to serious tissue damage, infection and cyst formation.
Severe pancreatitis can cause damage if enzymes and toxins are released into the bloodstream and harm other vital organs, such as the heart, lungs and kidneys. Typically, pancreatitis develops gradually and becomes progressively worse. There two forms of pancreatitis: acute and chronic.
Acute pancreatitis is a sudden inflammation of the pancreas that occurs over a short period of time. More than 80 percent of acute pancreatitis cases are caused by heavy alcohol use or gallstones. In the latter case, gallstones passing from the gallbladder can become lodged at the ampulla (opening to the ducts that drain the gallbladder and pancreas). This blockage causes an obstruction of the pancreatic duct. Pancreatic juices can then back up into the pancreas and lead to acute pancreatitis.
Symptoms of acute pancreatitis range from mild abdominal discomfort to a severe, life-threatening illness.
Pancreatic cancer is the tenth most common cancer in the United States. It is also the fourth deadliest. Approximately 37,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer annually.
Pancreatic cancer is a malignant disease that starts in the ductal cells of the pancreas. The disease occurs when cells in the pancreas grow, divide, and spread uncontrollably, forming a malignant tumor. In addition to cancerous tumors, there also are a variety of benign (noncancerous) tumors that can develop in the pancreas.
Pancreatic cancer is known to spread silently, so in most cases, symptoms do not present themselves until the disease is in an advanced stage. Unfortunately, by this point, treatment options are limited.
The Pancreas Clinic offers state-of-the-art diagnostic tests available, including:
Detects gallstones and fluid from inflammation in the abdomen (ascites).
Ultrasound can also show an enlarged common bile duct, an abscess, or a pseudocyst (a collection of tissue, fluid and pancreatic enzymes).
Computed tomography (CT)
Can help rule out other abdominal pain causes and determine if tissue is dying. CT can identify complications (fluid around the pancreas, abscess or pseudocyst.)
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
A tube is placed down the throat, into the stomach, then into the small intestine. Dye helps the doctor view the bile and pancreatic ducts on an X-ray.
A scope is inserted down the throat into the stomach. Sound waves show abdominal organs and may reveal gallstones. Endoscopic ultrasound can help diagnose chronic pancreatitis when an invasive test might exacerbate the condition.
Fecal elastase test
Measures elastase (an enzyme found in the pancreas) in a stool sample to test how well the pancreas works.
Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography
A type of MRI used to view bile ducts and the pancreatic duct.
Secretin pancreatic function test
Measures the ability of the pancreas to respond to the hormone secretin.
Call 866.798.7963 to make an appointment with any of our experts at Cleveland Clinic’s Pancreas Clinic.
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